3 Everett charter amendments sent to November ballot

EVERETT — Three measures are headed to the November ballot that, if approved by voters, will enact minor changes to the city of Everett’s charter.

The changes were recommended by a committee that met 11 times in the spring to explore modifications to the city’s governing document.

The first change would eliminate the requirement that the council meet every week of the year. Instead, the council would be required to meet a minimum 48 times per year, and give the council the ability to cancel meetings for holidays, inclement weather, or an insufficient amount of work to do.

The second measure would allow the city clerk to remove out-of-date terms from the charter, such as “hereof,” “heretofore,” and substitute modern English.

The third measure states that appointments to city boards and commissions should reflect the city’s diversity in gender, ethnicity, age and area of residence.

All three of the measures would require a simple majority vote to pass.

The city council did not take up two other issues that had gained some public support: dividing the city into council election districts and establishing a citizens committee focused on Everett Transit.

The council’s general governance subcommittee instead plans several meetings in the coming months to study the issues, councilman Paul Roberts said.

Lowell resident Megan Dunn proposed a districting plan last fall in order to increase representation on the council for people living in south Everett.

The charter review committee didn’t include that in its recommendations to the council, despite many public comments in favor.

In the government subcommittee meeting immediately prior to the council meeting, Roberts said study is needed on how districting works in other locations before deciding if changes needed to be made.

“It’s very hard for me not to think that we won’t have a recommendation to improve outreach,” he said. “But whether it includes districts will have to be determined by the committee, and whether that works best for the citizens.”

The subcommittee also plans to consider Everett resident JT Dray’s request to create a transit committee, which several council members and Mayor Ray Stephanson were hesitant to embrace.

“If (the existing structure is) not working, if we need to consider a separate committee for transit, I’m reluctant to do that but I’m willing to discuss this with you,” Stephanson said.

The council set itself a deadline of next Wednesday to submit measures to the November ballot. With no further plans to take up those issues before then, any further charter amendments have to wait until the 2017 election season at the earliest.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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